Book Review

Becoming by Michelle Obama

A Book Review


Susan Graham

I bought Becoming, Michelle Obama’s memoir because I had always liked her public persona and thought I would like her personal one. I was wrong. You really won’t like my review if you really want to love Michelle Obama no matter what. All I’m asking is that you read the entire book with an open mind before you criticize my critique.

First, let me get this out of the way. I am involved with advocacy for multiracial children. Barack Obama, Michelle’s husband, of course, is multiracial although he publicly self-identifies as black. Fair enough, but Michelle refers to him as a “hybrid” (page 98). I find that highly offensive. Hybrid is a term is usually used to refer to the offspring of animals or plants of different breeds. It is not normally used for humans, especially children. Shame on Michelle. He has referred to himself as a “mutt,” which is just as bad. Becoming, make no mistake, is about race. More about that later. Let’s stay on Barack Obama for a moment. He is the son of a black man and a white mother. He can say he’s black all he wants, it’s his choice, but if he or his children ever need a bone marrow donor, they will look to the multiracial community, no doubt about that. Michelle also writes that it’s “hard to pin down his ethnicity” on page 117. Huh? I think it’s pretty simple: his black father is from Kenya and his white mother is from Kansas.

This is a book filled with racial-speak on every page of the over 400-page book. Mrs. Obama assigns everyone a race based on her observations. Only once does Michelle Obama dare to breathe a word for a white woman with “mixed-race” grandchildren (page 244) and even then she can’t write “biracial” or “multiracial.” What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you. Michelle doesn’t even entertain the thought of people not being multiracial. She clearly holds on to the old one-drop rule that one-drop of “black blood” makes you black. Biracial or multiracial people, especially children, don’t exist.

Every single reference in Becoming is about race. She makes certain to let us know that there are servants in the White House who are “African American” or “black.” It’s obvious that self-identification doesn’t count—its Michelle Obama identification. If someone is white, she uses euphemisms: blond, brunette, “sipping wine with wealthy women”: suburban, etc. Why does everyone in Michelle Obama’s world have to have a color introduction? Can’t we just be people? No, not in her world. Isn’t it the high road to treat everyone the same? How can we one day do away with racial categories if people like her keep pigeonholing everyone?

Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago and sets out to prove that made a difference in her life—growing up middle-class black in what could be called a ghetto by some; she even refers to it that way. But let me tell you, she only proves that you can take the South Side out of the girl. An example of this is the $3,900 pair of thigh-high, gold sparkly boots she wore on the last night of her book campaign. She flaunted the pricey Balenciaga boots, which matched her Balenciaga dress. I’d say she’s come very far from the South Side.

It saddens me to think that Michelle Obama has segregated her world. Yes, it’s easy to do and I’m sure there are many people who haven’t even read the book, but who will disagree with me based on their perception of the writer of this book. It’s too bad.

I’m disappointed. I wanted to like this book and its author and I don’t. I came away from it thinking that when she goes low, the rest of us should go high.


Photo Credit: slideshare


It’s Famous Friday!


Barack Obama

Barack Obama is one of the most inspiring biracial individuals in American history.  He is known worldwide, for being the 44th President of the United States and is often referred to as, “the first black president.”  While this is partially true, a more accurate descriptor of his racial identity would be to say that he is, “the first Biracial, Black and White president,” of the United States. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, to a black father from Kenya, named Barack Obama Sr. and a white mother from Kansas, named Ann Dunham. He just celebrated his 57th birthday.

Since the end of his presidency, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, continue to live in the Washington, D.C. area about two miles from the White House.  They enjoy their “quiet lifestyle,” that is more out of the public eye. He is catching up on rest through vacationing and spending time playing one of his favorite sports, golf.  He has made a deliberate attempt to not interfere or be vocal about the politics of the new administration, knowing that his words still carry enormous weight.

Their older daughter Malia moved out to attend Harvard university in August of 2017, but their younger daughter remains at home.  Since Sasha Obama is graduating from high school in 2019, they thought it would be best not to disrupt her education by moving to another state.

There are two main professional agendas that Obama has focused on since leaving the White House.  In the past year and a half, he has worked diligently to establish the Obama Foundation.  With headquarters in Chicago, their mission is “to equip civic innovators, young leaders, and everyday citizens with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities.” Barack Obama has a passion for raising up young leaders and aims to be the inspiration to a younger generation of people, like Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were to him.

Secondly, he has spent his time entering the entertainment world, establishing a new production company called Higher Grounds Productions.  “One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said former president Obama in a statement released by Netflix. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

We will keep our eyes on the Obamas as excitement still swirls around the idea of the Obama’s re-entering politics. This time with Michelle as a potential presidential candidate, and Barack as a biracial, first man.


Alexis Cook

Project RACE Teen Co-President


Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Dear Hillary

July 28, 2016


Dear Hillary Clinton:


I watched President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. I cried because our Commander-in-Chief gave a speech from his heart. I cried because of his successes and his failures. I cried for the people he helped and the people he could not help.


There was one thing that Barack Obama could not give to Americans: the answer to the “What are you?” question. It’s the one question every multiracial person is asked many times during their lifetimes. It quite literally means what is your race? Our current President is multiracial. We have been told that he self-identifies solely as African-American, which is his right and his choice. We respect his choice. He does not use the term “multiracial” to answer the “What are you?” question, but over 17 million other multiracial Americans would like that option. Millions of multiracial children would prefer to embrace their entire heritage when describing their racial identification. They should have the choice.


Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) has been actively seeking inclusion of the important term “multiracial” on federal and state forms requiring racial classifications since 1990. We have testified at the request of OMB and the U.S. Census. My son was the youngest person to testify before Congress on an issue. He was eight-years-old at the time. He will be 32 in August and the federal government still does not acknowledge him as multiracial. We did win the ability to check more than one race on most forms, but not to use the dignified, perfect terminology our children so deserve. My children and millions like them are not mulatto, mixed, halves, or many other terms. They are proudly of two or more races—they are proudly multiracial.


We understand, in some ways, why President Obama did not wish to give children the multiracial option, since he, himself, identifies as monoracial. It is a personal matter for him. But, our children have waited eight more years so that he did not have to make the decision for the civil rights of America’s multiracial population.


You, Hillary Rodham Clinton, are the hope for our multiracial children. Make the right change. Let’s talk.



Susan Graham


Project RACE, Inc.





Our Multiracial President

President Obama and the Washington Redskins

Our multiracial President was quoted in The Washington Post about the Redskins changing their name, and it bugs me. He said this about avoiding offending Native Americans:

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team, even if they’ve had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it, the president said.

He later said: “I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team, and rightly so — even though they’ve been having a pretty tough time this year. But I think — all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it. And I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”

Our President was talking about words being offensive, yet he refers to himself as a “mutt.” He is inferring that multiracial people are “mutts.” Multiracial people also have a correct, respectful word—that word is “Multiracial,” Mr. President.

Susan Graham

Executive Director

Project RACE

American Voters Are Getting All Mixed up

Leighton Woodhouse

Finally, a journalist who gets it! -Susan

American Voters Are Getting All Mixed up

As anybody with a TV, radio or newspaper subscription can affirm, the big story coming out of the 2012 election is the long feared/eagerly awaited arrival of the Latino vote as a national political force capable of deciding a presidential contest. Latinos accounted for a record ten percent of the electorate this year, and something north of 70 percent of them cast their ballots for Obama. Meanwhile, fewer Latinos than ever before voted for the Republican candidate.

With the Latino segment of the electorate poised to continue expanding for many election cycles to come, leaders of both parties are tripping over each other to position themselves on immigration reform, and even in blood red states like Texas, GOP strategists are warning of imminent doom for their party if Republicans fail to break their cycle of addiction to racism, xenophobia and pandering to border-guarding lunatics.

The story is both accurate to a point and incomplete, as conventional wisdom is wont to be. Tavis Smiley, for instance, has highlighted the grating irony of black voters being left out of the punditocracy’s post-election anointing of the “new governing coalition,” following the second presidential election in a row in which African Americans broke records turning out to support Barack Obama. And when it comes to speculating about long-term electoral prospects, there’s another demographic category of Americans that’s getting glossed over in this mechanical extrapolation of the present into the future. Interestingly, it’s the one that Obama himself belongs to: multiracial Americans.

That’s not to say that mixed-race voters were a big electoral force in this election or any other national election in history. Nor is “mixed race” really much of a coherent ethnic identity in the first place (then again, neither arguably is “Latino” or “Asian”). As a demographic category, however, it’s going to be a significant factor for both parties to grapple with in future elections. It’s simply inevitable: About fifteen percent of new marriages nationally in 2010 were interracial, according to a Pew study published earlier this year. That’s more than double the proportion of the 1980s.

Those couples are having kids, and those kids are growing up to become voters. Moreover, according to the study, quaint taboos against interracial coupling are pretty close to completely breaking down, with nearly two-thirds of Americans fine with the idea, so we can expect the phenomenon to continue and accelerate going forward: more multiracial couples, more mixed race kids. And in politics, as they say, demography is destiny.

Among the states in which interracial marriages are above twenty percent are, not surprisingly, deep blue states like California and Hawaii. But some of the most conservative states in the country are also on the 20 percent-plus list, including Alaska, Arizona and Oklahoma. Texas and Kansas aren’t far behind. Also above average are new and perennial swing states like Colorado, Virgina and Florida. The highest rates of interracial marriage skew west, where three of the four states with the fastest-growing populations in the country are located (or four of the four, depending on whether you consider Texas a Western or a Southern state).

The bottom line is that mixed-race matrimony is a national phenomenon that cuts across the red-blue divide. As the children of those couples come into voting age, there will be more and more Americans in every part of the country who don’t fit into the tidy racial boxes that form the basis of the long-term electoral prognostications being offered up by the dozens in the aftermath of Obama’s re-election.

Will mixed race voters help the Republicans or the Democrats? That’s a murkier question than you might assume, since Pew’s data shows sharper differences in terms of income and education between various mixed-marriage demographic sub-groups (the parents of those voters-to-be) than between mixed couples and non-mixed couples as a whole; there’s little in the way of a uniform set of characteristics of interracial households to grasp onto.

But it’s also the wrong question. The political effect of mixed race voters on future elections will probably be one of obfuscation rather than of party advantage, comparable to the effect of the growing prevalence of independent voters on partisan contests. Multiracial Americans will make simple questions about single issues more complicated, and facile assumptions about voter sympathies more tenuous. Where does a half-Mexican, half-black woman from Texas come down on immigration reform? What does a quarter Chinese, quarter Filipino, half-Jewish male from Florida think about affirmative action? What does either voter think about expanding charter schools, gay marriage, abortion rights, cutting Medicare, or raising taxes on the rich? These questions are difficult enough today, as racial sub-groups become more diversified by class. As the mixed race population of Americans expands and renders ethnic identities less categorical, more subjective, and more abstract, those once-easy categories will lose even more of their value as predictors of political behavior. They may even start to lose some of their personal relevance in the lives of multiracial Americans themselves.

My girlfriend and I are both of mixed racial heritage. I’m half Japanese and half Anglo. She’s half Salvadoran and half Jewish. If and when we have children, they’ll be a quarter Asian, a quarter Latino and half white, with the white side split WASP/Jewish. When our kids become 18 and fill out their first voter registration forms, the only ethnic category that will make any sense for them to check off is “Multiracial.” Today, checking off that box feels pretty close to checking off “Other” or “None of the above” on a questionnaire on any given topic; it’s a throwaway category for misfits that has little if any analytical value to the researchers who review the data, but that has to be in there to get the respondent to the next section. When enough Americans start checking off that box, however, it’s going to be impossible to ignore — and difficult to integrate into existing statistical models. Like “Other,” “Multiracial” isn’t an actual, distinctive population with a common culture and history that you can add into the mix as another subgroup to track; it’s just a heuristic catch-all term for everyone who doesn’t fit into the conventional taxonomy. Once it becomes statistically meaningful — perhaps meaningful enough to impact election forecasts — pollsters and demographers will have to scrap the mechanical models they’re working with and start devising more fluid and subjective analytical approaches that reflect the fluidity and subjectivity of increasingly porous ethnic and racial categories.

That’s not to suggest that the age of the generation that follows the Millenials will be some sort of post-racial paradise. Countries like Brazil have had broad racially mixed populations for generations; that hasn’t lessened their citizens’ propensity for bigotry (though it has shaped their racism differently than that of Americans).

However, it is to suggest that the crude schematics political analysts use to lump voters together, make
educated guesses at their preferences, and forecast their behavior will start to butt up against the complicated reality of race in 21st-century American society, and those analysts will have to adapt their models to better fit the lived experience of voters. That might not change the electoral fortunes of either major party, but maybe it will help force our dumbed-down political process to live up to the nuance and complexity of a changing American electorate.

Follow Leighton Woodhouse on Twitter: 
SOURCE: Huff Post


                        TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

                                              FIRST TWO-TERM 

                 OF THE UNITED STATES!

Multiracial Population Growing

Multiracial Population Growing

The group of census-takers reporting their race as both white and black is at 1.8 million, which is a 134 percent increase since 2000.

In 2008, many Americans celebrated “the first black president.” But Barack Obama is actually biracial – like an increasing number of us who want to be seen that way.

According to a new release of 2010 Census info, “people who reported multiple races grew by a larger percentage than those reporting a single race.” The total U.S. population has grown by 9.7 percent since 2000. But certain categories of mixed-race parentage have increased by more than half…

Changes in Race Combinations

  • Four groups were the largest multiple-race combinations, each exceeding 1 million people in size, white and black (1.8 million), white and “some other race” (1.7 million), white and Asian (1.6 million) and white and American Indian and Alaska Native (1.4 million).
  • Since 2000, two multiple-race groups exhibited the most significant changes — the white and black population, which grew more than 1 million and increased by 134 percent; and the white and Asian population, which grew by about 750,000 and increased by 87 percent.

Multiple-Race Populations by State

  • There were 16 states where the people who reported more than one race exceeded 200,000 or more. The top three states (California, Texas and New York) each had a multiple-race population of half a million people or more.
  • The percentage change in the multiple-race population was 70 percent or greater in nine states — South Carolina, North Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Mississippi and South Dakota. Each state, with the exception of South Dakota, was a southern state. The multiple-race population grew by 50 percent or more in 22 additional states.

Multiple-Race Populations by Place

  • Among places with populations of 100,000 or more, Urban Honolulu CDP, Hawaii (a census designated place) was the place with the highest proportion of multiple-race whites, multiple-race Asians, and multiple-race Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders. Lansing, Mich., was the place with the highest proportion of multiple-race blacks, and Anchorage, Alaska, was the place with the highest proportion of multiple-race American Indians and Alaska Natives.

This is no surprise to me. I’m white, and my wife is Pacific Islander. But it’s worth noting that these race selections are self-reported on the Census, which has only allowed people to select multiple races since 2000. So while mixed-race populations are probably growing, these stats could also reflect some people just becoming more comfortable with or aware of their heritage. (And people who are just now noticing the option is no longer either/or.)

Source: MoneyTalksNews